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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  June 7, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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if they do the political price they will pay in 2018, the juice is not worth the squeeze on that one. these aren't republicans who need to hang their career on something that unpopular because donald trump is making it that unpopular. they can let him loose, cut him loose, they don't need him. >> one thing republicans can run away from is the ad campaign the rnc has out bashing comey. that has political repercussions. >> thanks for making time. that is all this evening. the rach"the rachel maddow show right now. >> good evening. thanks, chris. thanks for joining us this hour. anything going on in the news? one of those times. after the presidential election we the taxpayers pay for the person who has just won that election to set up offices in washington, d.c. taxpayer funded offices to run their transition out of, to get
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their transition efforts up and running because we have a national interest, we taxpayers have an interest in there being a smooth transition from one outgoing administration t the new incoming one. i remember going to a briefing at the obama transition offices in either late 2008 or early 2009 before president obama was inaugurated for the first time. i remember going to that, just like generic office space. i remember thinking it was kind of funny to see these regular looking office folks i didn't recognize doing office things and mixed in among them in shirtsleeves, look, it's david axelrod, they, there's the president-elect, there's joe biden about to be vice president. these low-key offices very busy, all taxpayer funded. that is a standard thing now, every president-elect gets taxpayer funded transition
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offices. after this last presidential election it was no exception. taxpayers paid for the trump folks to have low-key big centrally located transition office space in washington, d.c. just like every other modern president has had. what was different this year with this president-elect is this president-elect did not use those offices. we paid for them anyway but they didn't really use them. they used trump tower instead. why not? yes, there were some trump folks who worked out of the taxpayer funded transition offices in d.c. during the transition in november and december and into january before the inauguration, there were some people there but the candidate himself was not there. none of his top people were there. none of the decisions about the transition and the new administration were really being made at those taxpayer funded
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offices. there were these insiderry headlines at the time, trump marginalizes d.c. transition staff, those few suckers in d.c. thinking they were running the transition how, all the real work was happening at the prident's apartment, at trump tower in new york. we should have seen those headlines as advance warning we should throw out the window any normal ideas how a new presidential administration gets set up. but that interesting novel thing about the way the trump folks handle the transition, the abandonment of their d.c. office, that also had a really specific logistical consequence after the election, if we're setting up the new administration. it meant anybody who wanted to meet with the incoming president and his much to advisors, who wanted to lobby for themselves getting a top job in the new
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administration, unlike previous presidential transitions this time with the trump folks you couldn't do it in a low-key way, you couldn't slip off to some low-key generic office space in washington, d.c. and meet with the transition folks or candidate himself there. to do this with the trump folks, you had to come to fifth avenue in new york city. you had to find a way in to trump tower. for some people, i'm sure that was an added bonus. people who were very happy to be seen, making their trump tower pilgrimage, who made sure to engage the reporters and everything, who were camped outside the gold elevators. not everybody wants to be seen doing those sorts of things. some meetings are lower key. for some other people who might have preferred their pilgrimages to see the new president-elect,
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their trip, out of d.c., and up to new york city and into that very public building, that ended up being an awkward thing, particularly when it hit the newspapers. presidential election this past year, november 8th, that was a tuesday, we have our elections on tuesdays. the following week on thursday the week after the election, nine days after the election there was actually a serving obama administration official who turned up unexpectedly at trump tower. it was admiral mike rogers, the head of the national security agency. he was apparently spotted at trump tower less than a week and half after the election. what was very strange about that, mike rogers head of the nsa, he took personal leave from work, he took a personal day to leave washington, d.c. where he worked running the nsa to travel to new york presumably on his own dime, to go visit the
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candidate the president-elect at trump tower? incidentally, mike rogers, as an admiral in the navy and head of the nsa he's in the military chain of command he answers to the commander in chief at that time was barack obama. apparently mike rogers did not even tell president obama or the obama administration generally he was doing this, he was taking a personal day to leave d.c., g to new york to visit the president-elect. it was the "wall street journal" first to report on nsa head, mike rogers, playing hooky that day. they were also first to report on why he might have done it, the prospect the president-elect might give mike rogers a big promotion, he might get promoted not just from being head of the nsa and head of the cyber command the prospect he might be the new director of national intelligence. within days we got news just how remarkable a promotion that
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would be for admiral mike rogers, not just because it would be a big promotion but because top defense and intelligence officials that he had served under in the obama administration all apparently at the time wanted him to be fired, not promoted. it was one of the stranger things about the obama administration we learned about during the transition. this widely reported drama whether or not the head of the nsa was going to get fired during the transition, whether the head of the nsa was going to get canned after the election but before the new president was sworn in. that would be dramatic and strange enough even at the same time that nsa director was not apparently taking off his uniform or disregarding his uniform and taking a personal day to secretly meet with the incoming president at his penthouse apartment in new york to talk about maybe becoming the top intelligence oicial in the whole government. it w very stnge. that was this very strange story
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about this important part of the intelligence community at an otherwise pretty dramatic time. nsa director mike rogers had apparently been recommended for firing by obama's defense secretary, ash carter and by james clapper, director of national intelligence. they reportedly thought he had done a bad job at the nsa and cyber command. nbc news said mike rogers was extremely unpopular among the nsa work force at the time. would he be fired? would trump promote him even though obama was maybe about to fire him? interesting question. in the end, when all was said and done, what happened is that mike rogers kept the nsa job into the new trump administration. he did not get fired from running the nsa. but he also didn't get promoted to be the director of national intelligence either. that job went to dan coats, former republican senator from
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the state of indiana. now, today, on the eve of the first public appearance by the fbi director, since that fbi director was fired by president trump, today, these two figures, controversial admiral who snuck out from his job without permission from the obama administration, which wanted to fire him at the time, and the former senator whether got the top intelligence job despite admiral rogers going to those extraordinary lengths to lobby for it during the transition, these two unusual figures today opened a whole new unexpected fight in the investigation into the russian attack on our election last year and the question whether the trump campaign colluded. >> i'll ask both of you the same question. why are you not answering these questions? is there an invocation by the
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president of the united states of executive privilege. is there or not? >> not that i'm aware of. >> then why are you not answering? >> i feel it's inappropriate? >> what you feel is not relevant. why are you not answering the questions? is it an invocation of executive privilege. if there is, let's know about it. if there is answer the questions. >> i stand by the comments i made. i'm not interested in repeating myself, sir. i don't mean that in a contentious way. >> i do mean it in a contentious way. i don't understand why you're not answering our questions. when you were confirmed before the armed services committee you took an oath do you solemnly swear to give the committee the treat the complete truth so help you god. >> i also said those questions were classified and not available in an open forum to discuss those conversations. >> what is classified whether
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you should intervene in the fbi investigation. >> i stand by my pvious comments. >> mr. coats, the same question, what's the basis for your refusal to answer these questions today? >> the basis what i prevalence explained, i do not believe it is appropriate for me to -- >> what's the basis. i'm not satisfied with i do not believe it is appropriate or i do not feel i should answer. i want to understand a legal basis. you swore that oath to tell us the truth, the wheel truth and nothing but the truth and today you are refusing to do so to testify before this committee? >> i'm not sure i have a legal basis. >> today dan coats and mike rogers said they would not tell the united states senate, which is investigating the trump russia affair and the committee that overseas them in the senate, the intelligence
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committee overseas them. the intelligence agencies have to answer to that oversight committee. nevertheless as head of nsa and director of national dependence toddependence -- national intelligence said they would not tell about the conversations with the president and whether the president asked either of them whether they would or could do anything to change the course of the russia investigation or try to change perceptions of the investigation. they would not answer. men have been described in multiple press reports being asked about or pressured on that issue by the president himself. what ever you expected them to say about it i don't think anybody expected what they did today. senators in both parties today clearly were flabbergasted they flat out refused to answer any
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questions. >> i would say with incredible respect for you, i am not asking for classified information, i am asking you whether you were asked -- >> i understand that and will not go down that road. >> you're not invoking the privilege and it's not classified. this is oversight committee. why would it not be appropriate for you to share that information with us. director coats you said it would be inappropriate to answer whether the president asked for your assistance in blunting the russia investigation. i don't care how you felt, i'm not asking whether you felt pressured, i'm simply asking did that conversation occur? >> and again, senator, i will say that i do believe it's inappropriate for me to discuss that in an open session. >> you realize -- obviously,
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this is not releasing any classified information, you realize how simple it would be to y,no, that neverappened. why is it inapopriate, director coats? you can clear an awful lot up by -- >> i do not share with the general public conversations that i had with the president or many of my administrative colleagues within the administration i believe are -- should not be shared. >> i think your inwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes. >> it is my belief you are inappropriately refusing to answer these questions today. >> our default position when there's a justice department investigation we do not discuss it publicly. that's our default rule. >> is that the rule for the president of the united states as well. >> i don't know what -- >> that is what the questions are being asked about, reports that nobody has laid to rest here that the president of the united states has intervened
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directly in an ongoing investigation and we've gotten no answer from any of you. >> i don't know that anybody had a clear expectation about what they would get from the acting director of the fbi, deputy attorney general, head of the nsa and director of national intelligence today, all of whom are somehow connected to these multiply sourced reports that the president has tried to put his thumb on the scale when it comes to the trump-russia investigation, that he has either tried to shut that investigation down and get intelligence folks and law enforcement folks to makes public pronouncements about those investigations and somehow exonerate him and change the public narrative about it. i don't think anybody knew exactly how they would all answer as to their reported roles in what the president has done on that investigation but i don't think anybody expected they would all just say, no, i don't really feel like answering your questions.
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welcome to the next stage of the investigation into the trump russia affair, where apparently the administration gets its act together to the extent administration officials will stop answering questions about it from congress. whether or not those officials can explain the basis on which they are refusing to answer. i know there's a lot going on. this is new. this is being overshadowed today by the anticipation surrounding fbi director james comey's testimony tomorrow morning. what happened today, no, i won't answer and don't have a reason why, this is a really big turning point in the overall question whether we as citizens will get to the bottom of what happened here. if administration officials just start say, no, i'm not going to answer, no, congress has no authority to learn this stuff, no, the american people don't get an answer to these questions not because they have any legal
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reason not say because i'm just not going to say, that's new for this administration. that's new for this investigation thus far. 's a big deal, the first sign how the trump administration is going to fight this now that the president has its new external legal counsel coordinating this fight. if the answer is, no, you don't get answer because we don't feel like answering your questions, i'm not sure congress knows how it's going to fight back against that new strategy. i don't even know if congress will fight back against it but that question is newly newly important. stay with us.
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what i will do here is kind of like a cheat sheet, not like cliffnote, summary of everything that happened, cheat sheet back of the envelope notations that may be helpful over the next 24 hours. tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m. eastern time, we will hear from the fired fbi director, james comey. today, he apparently arranged with the united states senate to release his opening statement for tomorrow morning a day early. i know you've heard about this statement today already. hopefully you had a chance to read it. not that long, six or seven pages. but whether or not you've had a chance to read it, here is just a few things to focus on, a few back o the envelope things to keep inind as top lines. in terms of what the fbi director is letting us know and
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what we're going to expect to learn a lot more about tomorrow. if director comey's statement as released today is true and accurate, and i don't want to premi presume that it is, if it is, we learned a few things from it today some big things and some small things. here's one. first, at what director comey says was their first in person meeting on january 6th, first meeting between trump and comey, the way comey describes it he says a number of intelligence officials were all in the same room together briefing trump on the election attack on the election last year. comey says it was him personally, who met one-on-one with trump, they kicked everyone else out of the room and just comey and trump alone talking about the personally sensitive and salacious allegations made against donald trump presumably from the christopher steel
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dossier of unverified russian dirt against donald trump. there were lots of intelligence officials briefing the president on the attack. when it came to that part of it, the intelligence director at the time, james clapper, said james comey personally should do tha part of the briefing one-on-one with donald trump instead of in front of everyone else to spare mr. trump any embarrassment those allegations might cause. we've never heard that today and learned that today from james comey statement. another thing we learned today, comey says although he and trump had already multiple times comey staying on as fbi director, comey says at a one-on-one dinner that happened a few days after the inauguration, one-on-one dinner in the green room at the white house, trump raised the issue of comey holding the fbi director job again, as if they had never
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discussed it before. the way that comey describes it, he says basically trump raised the question of him holding the fbi director job in a way that seemed like he maybe wanted to use it as leverage against director comey. here's how he describes it quote the president began by asking me whether i wanted to stay on as fbi director which i found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped i would stay and i had assured him i intended to. he said lots of people wanted my job and given the abuse i had taken during the previous year he would understand if i wanted to walk away. my instincts told me that the one-on-one setting and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position meant the dinner was at least in part an effort to have me ask for my job and give a pit --
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pastry onnage relationship. at the end of the dinner he said he was very glad i wanted to say and said i need loyalty. james comey says in that one-on-one dinner at the white house the president in essence set him up to beg for his job, ask for his job in a way that would make comey seem beholden to the president. the president then followed that up by saying, i need loyalty. this is important not just because people down the road are going to need help writing the script for how this goes in the movie if there is still a movie industry then. this is important not just for the drama, it's important because of intent, because of mindset in case there is any criminal implication here. that issue about do you want your job and are you loyal to me? if those things are connected, that goes right to the question of whether the fbi director may have been inappropriately fired by the president for refusing to
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do the president's bidding, refusing to be loyal in the president's eyes because the president apparently did expect that from his fbi director. that brings us to the last two big revelations from the comey statement today. we have heard this one from unnamed sources before. we never heard it on the record from the director of the fbi before but director comey ss in his statement what's going to be his opening statement tomorrow morning, he says the president bluntly told him, urged him, sort of pleaded with him to drop the fbi investigation into mike flynn. this was on february 14th. there had been a briefing involving a lot of people in the oval office. james comey says the president told everybody else to leave the oval so he and jim comey could speak alone. this is what james comey says happened. when the door by the grandfather clock closed and we were alone, the president began by saying, i
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want to talk about mike flynn. quote he is a good guy and has been through a lot. he then said i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. comey then says, i replied only that he is a good guy. i did not say i would "let this go." if the president did ask the director of the fbi to let an ongoing fbi investigation go, for whatever reason, and again we've had these allegations from unnamed sources and people close to comey before supposedly what he described in these memos he has supposedly written but we've never seen it's all been reported out, this is comey saying it now. if what he is saying is true, we have the president saying, stop that fbi investigation for whatever reason we are already in unchartered territory in
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terms of presidential behavior. i realize evebody is talking about nixon too much. nixon got nailed for talking about asking the cia to pressure the fbi about an investigation. get rid of all the middlemen and talking about it. if the president just personally pressured the fbi to drop an investigation, personally told the fbi director drop it no matter what the reason was or the investigation was, we are in unchartered waters, we have never seen anything like this in terms of presidential behavior in the history of the republic. finally, last point, comey says in his opening remarks, which we will hear from him tomorrow says that the president pressured him in a phone call march 30th and follow-up phone call a week and a half later that comey should, in the president's words, lift the cloud that was hanging over the presidency. lift the cloud, by publicly declaring the president himself was not a personal target of the
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fbi's counter-intelligence investigation into russian meddling in the election and whether or not the trump campaign colluded with it. lift the cloud, make a public pronouncement that i'm not under investigation. director comey says in this statement that at least at the time of those discussions, president trump wasn't an individual personal target of the fbi's counter-intelligence investigation. but the president wanted a public statement to that effect. he demanded it, pressed for it repeatedly. when he didn't get it he went back to comey and said how come i didn't get that? and then of course comey was fired by the president. we will hear it all from comey himself tomorrow morning. but if what he says is true, the president has at least lied about several of these matters in public multiple times.
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the president said bluntly, no, no, no. that's a quote, no, no, no, easy to remember. the president said no, no, no, when asked if he ever urged director comey to shut down the flynn investigation. the president also said bluntly, no, i didn't, when asked just last month if he ever asked james comey for his loyalty. the president is saying no on those things, james comey is saying yes. either the president is lying about those things publicly or james comey is about to lie about those things under oath tomorrow morning. that itself is really important. beyond that there is a question whether the behavior described by the president is illegal. not an easy question to answer. the reason it's not an easy question to answer is fascinating. that's it. ghbor's fence. and once we do,
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kamil holan lohan. last night, right before we got on the air the "washington post" broke this story. the post citing multiple sources saying that intelligence director dan coats was not only asked by the president if he could intervene with the fbi director james comey to try to get comey to stop the fbi investigation into mike flint, not only did he ask that of dan coats but dan coats told people at the time that the president made that ask of him, that the president had made that ask of
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him. that's important because it's not just a damning allegation about the president's behavior also an indication how that might be corroborated. it's one thing to have dan coats and the president have different stories about what they discussed, it's another thing if at the time dan coats told other people about the content of that conversation. that's the way witnesses get backed up, like in court and stuff. that was last night's news in the "washington post." today, it was news in the united states senate. >> major capitals in xwrrp in -- >> you testified at the armed services committee you were not aware of the president or white house personnel contacting any in the intelligence committee with a request to drop the investigatioin general
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flynn. yesterday, the "washington post" reported you had been ask by the president to intervene with director comey to back off of the fbi's focus on general flynn. which one of those is accurate? >> senator, i will say once again i am not going to get into any discussion in that in an open hearing. >> both of them can't be accurate, mr. director. >> senator ron wyden of oregon doing his best to try to get an answer from the director of national intelligence. these serving officials from the justice department and intelligence community saying they could not or would not answer, they didn't feel it was appropriate to answer a lot of the senator's questions. tomorrow, that same committee will start in again bright and early and this time their star witness will be fbi director james comey. we know something about what james comey will testify to
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because his opening statement has been released. there is now, seems to me a new question as to whether or not administration officials who continue to serve in the administration will just refuse to answer congressional questions whether or not they have a legal basis to refuse. joining us now is senator ron wyden, member of the senate intelligence committee, one of the questioners during today's hearing. thank you for joining us tonight. i know this has been a very important time. >> thank you for having me. those officials made a mockery of the oversight process. we have a legal obligation to do vigorous oversight. what they basically said is, so what. i can tell you we are not going to sit back and say this is acceptable. you ran the chip about my question to director coats. one of those answer is false and i'm going to get to the bottom of it. >> the important thing in that
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question you raised there is this is not just competing news reports or different people shading the same story differential depending on their audience, what you asked the dni today was about his previous testimony. he testified to the senate armed services committee, another oversight committee in the senate saying he wasn't aware of any white house personnel contacting anybody in the intelligence committee to drop that flynn investigation. the "washington post" report does directly contradict that today yet he wouldn't answer either way. the thing i didn't understand today, maybe you did, was he saying that he would answer those questions, he would clear that up in a classified session, in a closed session, he just wouldn't do it in the opening hearing? >> no. i don't think there was a commitment to clear it up. that's the problem. i think our job is to get to the bottom of these contradictory
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accounts particularly when they go right to the heart of the central question. that is, was the president putting a lot of effort into trying to restrict this investigation, and i think the evidence is just piling up that he was. >> we've seen director comey's opening statement released ahead of time today so we all have a chance to review it before he makes those remarks and faces questions tomorrow. if wt director comey says in his opening statement is true, if the president directly urged him to drop the investigation into mike flynn, so that's not even -- >> rachel, that is watergate level material, that particular point you're making about mike flynn is that serious. >> if the president did that directly, is it just violating a norm of how things are generally done. would it be illegal for the president to do that? >> rachel, i'm sure the lawyers are going to dig into this into
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the obstruction of justice question in particular. i've come to feel if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it just may be a duck. so we're just going to stay at it and that's why tomorrow is so important. >> what do you think is going to happen next in terms of your committee's investigation here? we heard after -- for example after nsa director mike rogers would not answer questions today about whether or not he was pressured by the president to try to influence the fbi investigation, we heard the ranking democrat on the committee, senator warner, talk about bringing in some other officials, other people who might be able to corroborate that story, does that mean we should expect further open hearings, new witnesses we haven't heard from yet? >> open hearings, subpoenas and ability to declassify material is right at the heart of it. what tomorrow i believe is going to be about, is fleshing out
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some of the important statements mr. cey has now made in his written testiny. en he talks about his position almost being treated like patronage, that's not what public service is about. your obligation is to the law, to the constitution, not a patronage job the way he thinks the president was supporting it. >> if that patronage is bourrn out, would that be construed as grounds for impeachment against the president alone? >> what i can tell you and it originates in the house, i believe every member of congress who takes an oath has an obligation to put the constitution first. that's what i'm going to do and that's going to be the
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foundation of my work going forward as we try to squeeze the truth out of a very very reluctant administration. apparently, the president seems to think he's been vindicated by all of this. i think that's ridiculous. there hasn't been anything that has contradicted what mr. comey has said in his testimony. >> senator ron wyden, democrat from the intelligence committee. big day tomorrow. thanks for being with us tonight. >> thank you. >> much more ahead. a millie dresselhaus doll! happy birthday, sweetie! oh, millies. trick or treat!
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here is a thing i think i understand but i'm not sure and i can tell it's important so i want to check it. in his opening statement tomorrow morning, at the senate, one of the things fired fbi director james comey is going to say, we now know because they released his statement, one of the things he will say, when the president repeatedly asked him to lift the cloud over his presidency by making a public statement about president trump not personally being a target of the fbi's counter-intelligence investigation, when president trump asked director comey to lift that cloud and make that public statement we now know director comey will explain tomorrow he didn't do that, he didn't make that public statement and he didn't commit to the president that he would make any statement like that for a specific reason. this is what he's going to say tomorrow. quote i did not tell the president that the fbi and the department of justice had been reluctant to make public
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statements that we did not have an open case on president trump for a number of reasons. comma. most importantly because it would create a duty to correct should that change. that is what director comey will say torrow. what does that mean? a duty to correct should that change. i think i know what that means. it's worth checking because it's important. matt miller, chief spokesman for the justice department, thank you. what i believe director comey is saying here at the time of those conversations at least, president trump was not personally and individually the target of the counter-intelligence investigation. there was a good reason trump should respect for not publicly saying that, even if it wasn't true at the time that public statement was made, if he became a target of the investigation the fbi would then have to follow it wake up a public statement saying, hey, the president is now a target of our investigation. is that what he's saying. that's exactly right.
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that's what comey uses his reasoning for sending that letter on the hillary clinton investigation. we can quibble whether it existed, that was his reasoning. it applies here, too, not just they have a duty to correct. let's say you make out that statement and then leaks the investigation moved forward and they are looking at trump and james comey gets asked again, he says, no comment. no comment means they're looking at the president and that confirms who they're investigating. >> let me ask if it's unusual or important in any way this has been released in advance of his oral testimony tomorrow? >> it's not that unusual. a lot of times they will release it and do it in conltation with the witness and i think they're trying to get more attention. comey probably encouraged it because i think he feels the president lied about their conversations and will say under oath tomorrow he thinks the president lied about the
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investigations and wants it out there for people to see and probably to get a head start what questions they ought to be asking him. >> the president's personal private lawyer put out a statement that the president feels vindicated by this planned testimony, presumably in part because director comey is now saying overtly president trump was not personally a target of this counter-intelligence investigation. isn't that a vindication for the president in some ways? >> no. that was always a red herring. for the president asking for this statement i'm not personally under investigation. the organization he led was under investigation. the trump campaign was under investigation. when ever the justice department investigates any investigation whether a drug cartel or major bank or campaign they look at wrongdoing wherever it is. their mo is find people targets, find evidence against them and move up the chain as far as they can. let's say for example they have evidence on mike flynn, they
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will take the strongest case they can to mike flynn and say, what do you have to tell us about say donald trump. that's how they work. >> in the drug cartel analogy, not having the head of the targ of the investigation from the beginning would be expected, would not be some sign of vindication for the head of the >> it means they don't have any evidence right now that he committed ongdoing with respect to what happened in 2016. it doesn't mean they won't ever get there. and of course it has nothing to do with whether he committed obstruction of justice in trying to end the investigation. >> matt miller, former chief spokesperson for the justice department, i knew you would know. thank you for helping us sort it out. >> thank you. >> all right. we've got more ahead. stay with us.
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i have never been pressured. i have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way. >> i never felt pressure to intervene or interfere said the director of national intelligence today. he never felt pressure. but what if he was asked to intervene? what if he was asked to interfere? whether or not that made him feel pressured. is that ask still a legally relevant thing, a legally problematic thing? what if your interaction with the president was enough to make you feel pressured? was enough to make you feel uneasy, as former fbi director mes comey is preparing to say tomorr. does that count in a legal sense? is all of this just about
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people's feelings and what is normal, or is any of this legally problematic for the president if these allegations are proven out? joining us now is nancy gertner, a former massachusetts judge, senior lecture at harvard law school now. it's very nice to have you with us. thanks for being here. >> thanks for asking me. >> do you think we're asking the right questions whether or not there is legal jeopardy for the president in terms of allegations versus this is just a violation of the way things are usually done? >> no, no, there is real legal jeopardy. the statute talks about an act that obstructs or even endeavors, tries to obstruct justice. they talk about that when you do something, the natural and probable consequences of which are to obstruct justice. and the context is important. if you and i called up comey and said hey, would you lay off flynn, it would be one thing. but when the president says it, the natural and probable consequences is to have
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something happen. and the best measure of that is what comey said. comey, who was the u.s. attorney, who was the head of the fbi understood what he was saying, that the natural and probable consequences of what the president was saying was to get him to lay off flynn. that is actionable, whether or not that would be, you know, would be enough because it will be the president's word against comey's. and whoever else was asked to leave the room when the revan comments were made. whether or not it's enough is another question. but whether or not this is actionable and in the zone of obstruction of justice, it seems to me clear. >> and that's true both for the direct alleged pressure by the president on the fbi director himself, but also the indirect pressure that he apparently or allegedly tried to organize by other senior officials, asking them to speak to james comey about the investigation. would that also be as clear to you as potentially obstruction
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of justice? >> right. the issue is there is an act here that is intended to create an outcome. and the outcome is to stop the flynn investigation. and you have right now we have comey's account of what was said to him. the comment about are you loyal to me, and then you pair that with the firing of comey so that loyalty actually had consequences. and then the question is what others -- the whole ceremony of asking other people to leave the room so he could talk to comey alone is itself concerning. and then the question is will the investigation confirm all of that with respect to others. right now the president can deny it. and comey interestingly enough has his notes and has by the way sort of he was debriefed. he debriefed with other senior official as soon as he left the room. so this may not be enough in any other setting. typically people are paying off witnesses or people are threatening. but for the president to make
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these comments in the context that he made them is troubling. >> and those notes that were made telling other people contemporaneously at the time of the discussions, that would be seen as corroborating evidence for witness statements? >> right. it's not just that he took notes. he took notes as soon as he walked out. he said he was on his computer and he was typing them in the fbi car. he said he also talked to senior officials roughly afterwards. so you don't have a watergate situation. you don't have a tape machine. but you have comey's account of what went on under circumstances where it is certainly worthy of belief. >> nancy gertner, former federal judge from massachusetts, now senior lecturer at harvard law. thank you very much for being here. we appreciate you being here. >> thank you. >> we'll be right back.
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nausea, upper respiratory tract infection... and headache. tell your doctor about all the medicines you take and if you're pregnant or planning to be. ask your dermatologist about otezla today. otezla. show more of you. have you called in sick yet? i am not that kind of doctor, but i hereby issue the entire country a doctor's note so you can stay home and watch the testimony tomorrow morning by fired fbi director james comey. you can watch it all happen right here at msnbc. our coverage is going the start with brian williams anchoring at 9:00 a.m. that will go throughout the coverage. whether we be breaking it all down afterwards, including here tomorrow night on this show. you're excused. that does it for us tonight. now it is time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." good evening, my friend. >> hey, rachel. i haven't been setting my alarm

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